Kill Bill: Vol. 2
Dir. Quentin Tarantino
136 min; Starring Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, and David Carradine
"Looked dead, didn't I? But I wasn't. But it wasn't from lack of trying, I can tell you that. Actually, Bill's last bullet put me in a coma - A coma I was to lie in for four years. When I woke up, I went on what the movie advertisements refer to as a 'roaring rampage of revenge.' I roared. And I rampaged. And I got bloody satisfaction. I've killed a hell of a lot of people to get to this point, but I have only one more. The last one. The one I'm driving to right now. The only one left. And when I arrive at my destination, I am gonna kill Bill. "
In my review of the first Kill Bill film, I had said that the film was "the cinematic equivalent of a blow to the head." I meant that in a good way. The film was audacious, violent, stylized, exciting. It ran a mere 111 min, but felt like an epic monument to its pulp origins. Seeing it for the first time in a packed, opening-night theatre in Edmonton is one of my fondest movie going memories. You can imagine that I was excited to see the second film.
Any criticisms of the first film are in many ways addressed in the first film. Many lamented the lack of classic "Tarantino-esque" dialogue and such, but the second film gives us everything we want and more. It's not as pervasively violent as the first film (neither film is as violent as the media reported them to be). We're invited into the life and world of The Bride (Uma Thurman) and her real name, bleeped out in the first film, is finally revealed. and discover the resonance and emotion that many felt the first film lacked. And finally, we get to meet Bill. As the enigmatic title villian of the picture, David Carradine trancends his B-movie status and steals the show and earns our respect and fear.
One of the most interesting comments I've heard from Tarantino regarding his films is that they are set in what he calls his "Movie World." Films like Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown are in "Tarantino World" and films like Kill Bill, which distill all the elements of pure cinema that Tarantino loves and grew up on, are the kinds of films that characters in "Tarantino World" would watch. It's a wonderfully clever idea, and helps us to appreciate the films a little bit better. This is a form of experimental filmmaking. A test of what I like to call "pure cinema." It's a film that couldn't exist if films did not exist before it. It's a film that is made for the film junkies out there. And I love it for that.
Tarantino is so in control of his skills here. The way that he succeeds in drawing amazing performances out of actors that most have written off (such as Daryl Hannah or even David Carradine) is remarkable. His visual style, even in a film such as this which isn't as flashy as the first part, is still beautiful and knowing. The soundtrack, while some don't like it as much, I think is as good or better, showing his influences (Ennio Morricone) or highlighting the emotion of a particular scene (Malcolm Mclaren "About Her").
The more I think about it, the more I like Kill Bill: Vol. 2. I guess you might wonder why it's only ranked 5th on this list. Well, the truth is that it isn't really a complete film. This is only half a film. And while I love it, I would love it even more if I could have it reconstituted into an four hour epic. This is one of my favourite films of 2004. But both Kill Bill films together is one of my favourite films of all time.